If you want to shop more consciously, ask yourself this simple question ahead of purchasing: Will I wear this item at least 30 times? The #30WearsChallenge was initiated by Livia Firth of Eco Age last year, but the idea remains a very solid one. It doesn't mean you need 30 totally different outfits to work around one key buy; it just means that what you're getting has the potential to be a winner in your wardrobe for some time to come and isn't such a fad that it feels outdated when a new season rolls in.
That's how I try to approach the high street, anyway. I aim to think about whether the new piece actually works with the other things I already own. I've made mistakes in the past snapping up lovely bits that are so at odds with the rest of my closet they don't see the light of day. Additionally, I ask myself whether something looks and feels high-quality enough to last. Do I genuinely love it? Can I wear it in different ensembles, and moreover, will I wear it at least 30 times?
Tanice Elizabeth in a COS look.
There are a few stores where I find this strategy to be more achievable than others. COS, Mango and H&M have created some of my most frequently worn affordable items. In fact, as I type, I'm wearing a striped knit H&M dress that I bought a few years ago, which served me well during my pregnancy, postnatally and also now that I'm back to work and living in stretchy clothes. In addition, I've also gotten excellent use out of Arket and & Other Stories pieces, but today my focus is on the other three brands because their new-in sections are looking particularly strong.
Brittany Bathgate in a COS knitted set.
What's good at COS right now?
Sitting at the more conceptual end of the affordable spectrum, COS will always be a go-to for classic items with a twist. But it's becoming increasingly good at delivering more adventurous and artistic pieces too, choosing unusual colours, unique fabrics and prints, and quite daring shapes.
It's the exaggerated puff shoulders on this otherwise classic white dress that makes it look so luxe.
I'm always on the hunt for a great sun hat—so glamorous!
Now and then, COS does limited-edition collabs with cool brands, and they always sell out fast. Yuma Labs is a sustainable eyewear brand from Antwerp.
This crinkly top is precisely the kind of easy-but-impactful separates that COS does best.
Okay, it's not the most timeless bag style in the world (although the tan leather is very chic), but it does look incredibly premium and could definitely pass as designer for many years to come.
A carefully chosen LBD will look good for a long, long time. This shape is so elegant and easy to throw on.
Each time spring comes around, I lament putting a very good trench coat in the wash and destroying it. I'm still yet to fill that important hole in my wardrobe, and this one looks like a strong contender.
Not everyone will be into the idea of wearing stilettos again, but an elegant black pair of sandals will always work hard for those of us who are usually in heels.
'Tis the season to invest in a vest, and this navy style from COS is all kinds of sophisticated. It looks very nice under a blazer.
This dress brings so much joy. From the tie-detail blouson arms to the shocking pink colour or roomy patch pockets, this clever frock is both stunning and surprisingly useful!
For future weddings, parties, christenings and more, these elegant mules will go very very well with all other colours and prints in the same way a pair of "nude" sandals might.
Another absolute corker of a dress from H&M. I'd wear this casually with flat sandals and a tan belt or with fancier heels and jewellery for a smart do.
It always makes me happy to see brands ensuring that more trend-driven items are available in a wider range of sizes, so these H&M+ co-ords are well worth checking out.
The trousers do look brilliant with the matching shirt, but they'd also be great with a cute cardigan or basic tee.
H&M's ribbed vests have been selling like mad, and I can see why. The high neck and substantial trim make them look more expensive.
Beautiful, effortless and so easy to accessorise to suit your personal style.
Denim skirts are back, and this one is ultra minimalistic, just how I like them.
This scarlet midi dress is very demure from the front, but it's this criss-cross back detailing that is totally wow!
Anne-Victoire Lefevre in a Mango look.
What's good at Mango right now?
Earthy, neutral tones in simple separates or flouncy dresses are really ticking the boxes. From ecru jeans and natty knits through to plain polka-dot midis, the below edit revolves around a simple palette, meaning everything can work nicely together.
Beige, camel and off-white knits always look rich, and the asymmetric buttons on this make it even more premium-looking.
Wearing biscuit shades head-to-toe is a very fast way to look pulled-together.
For the time being, you'll be the best dressed person at the park, and then one day this will be a fantastic addition to your holiday packing list.
I own a couple of tailored pieces from Mango, and I've always felt they are good quality for the high street.
The colour of this linen suit is really sumptuous. Trousers often come up long, so be prepared to hem these if you're short like me (5'1'').
If you told me these cost £400, I'd believe you!
Overshirts are great during trans-seasonal periods, and this one is a timeless iteration in camel suede.
It's hard to tell expensive and affordable canvas bags apart, so this little guy is a worthwhile addition to your summer wardrobe.